The Food Sustainability Index celebrates its 3rd anniversary amid novelties and confirmations

The Food Sustainability Index celebrates its 3rd anniversary amid novelties and confirmations

December 20, 2018

The Food Sustainability Index celebrates its 3rd anniversary amid novelties and confirmations

The index has reached its third edition and has become a more global tool for the assessment of food sustainability across the world.

Established in 2015 and based on the Milan Protocol, the Food Sustainability Index developed thanks to the collaboration between experts at the BCFN and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and today represents an important tool to measure food sustainability

EIU Global Director of Public Policy, Leo Abruzzese, had the duty and honor to present the novelties of the third edition of the Index and the results achieved by the various countries. His presentation, which took place during the 9th edition of the International Forum on Food and Nutrition, organized by the BCFN Foundation in Milan, started with the definition of food sustainability: “Sustainability is the ability of a country's food system to sustain itself without consuming its natural resources and compromising future generations' access to food", explained Abruzzese, who also said that the Food Sustainability Index is one of the tools that allows to measure this parameter more accurately. “Food loss and food waste, sustainable agriculture and nutritional challenges are the three pillars on which the index is founded. Overtime, as the index evolves its focus always remains on the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN”. He then concluded: “We mustn't forget that the Food Sustainability Index is a collection of data, therefore, the better the data, the better the index”. 

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The novelties of the 2018 edition

One of the most important novelties of the 3rd edition of the Food Sustainability Index is the increase in the number of countries included, which went from 34 in 2017 to 67 in the latest edition. Leo Abruzzese explained that “as the number of countries has almost doubled, now the index includes almost the whole of Europe, but has expanded especially in Africa” and stressed how important it is for each country involved to adopt strategies aimed at solving the problems connected with food sustainability. For example, talking about food waste, there are significant differences between high-income and low-income countries: while in high-income countries, final consumers are responsible for most of the food waste, low-income countries mainly lose food during the first stages of the food chain. To allow a more detailed analysis of the problems each single country faces, the 2018 version of the Food Sustainability Index has reviewed and modified some of the 37 indicators and 89 individual measures that take into account aspects linked to environment, society and economy. “The inclusion of water issues, availability of insurance for farmers and greater alignment with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), are just some of these changes."

The results

What actually emerged from the Food Sustainability Index? All the details are available on the dedicated website, however, during the event held in Milan the names of the top-ranking countries in the high-, middle- and low-income categories were revealed respectively as France, Colombia and Rwanda. In particular, France stands out for its food waste prevention policies at all levels; Colombia, for the great attention to agricultural sustainability, reducing water issues and adopting regulations that protect small land owners, but also policies to adapt agriculture to climate change and provide public funding for research and development in the agricultural sector. Rwanda showed significant improvements in terms of nutritional indicators: high levels of physical activity combined with low consumption of salt and sugar. “I would like to stress that the purpose of the index is not to proclaim a winner, but help investors understand sustainability challenges and identify best practices that can help improve food systems and any weaknesses that require more attention”, explained Abruzzese. “When looking at the indicators in the Food Sustainability Index it is obvious that many of them are linked to the Sustainable Development Goals”. 


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